Mallory Chidester
Lt. Col. Scott Bishop explains the significance of the Battlefield Cross at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Hawthorne Saturday.

“On the 11th month, on the 11th day, of the 11th hour, the battlefields of Europe fell silent after more than four years of fierce and intense fighting,” Lt. Col. Scott Bishop told Mineral County residents on Monday from Veterans Park in Hawthorne.

On Saturday, people gathered at the park to honor those veterans who had served our country – some giving the ultimate sacrifice, their lives.

“I’m often asked what can we, as a country, do for them? One way is to ensure that our force is always mission-ready to answer the call of duty – today, tomorrow, at any time,” Lt. Col. Bishop told those in attendance on Saturday.

He spoke of the United States being at war for more than the last 16 years and that population of young Veterans coming home is larger than that of the Vietnam War. He spoke of making the transition from their military service to civilian life, better for the veteran.

These veterans begin the transition from the service to the work world and now more employers step up and hire veterans because of their training, skills learned during their military term become skills that employers look for when veterans apply for jobs.

“Soldiers live by the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. They do not leave behind their values and skills when they take off their uniforms for the last time and transition to civilian life. These men and women have the knowledge, skills and attributes to get just about any job done. They are some of the most talented, dedicated, capable and entrepreneurial professionals in the world and, they often use the skills they gained in the military to continue to service in their communities,” the commander stated.

“Right now, all around the country, more so in Hawthorne than anywhere else I have been, Veterans are a part of the community. Veterans serve as teachers, doctors, engineers, social workers, community leaders, first responders and even elected officials. They continue to serve our country – our communities – by making positive impacts, building stronger futures and inspiring future generations to come,” Lt. Col. Bishop stated.

“America’s Patriotic Home” showed up again on Monday, Nov. 13 again at the 11th hour to witness the dedication of Veterans Park and the unveiling of the new Battlefield Cross statute.

VFW Past Commander John Stroud of the Hawthorne VFW 2313 dedicated the memorial for those fallen by addressing those in attendance.

“This is a solemn, important occasion – one we shall long remember with pride for the small part we are contributing. We are assembled here to pay tribute to the men and women of our community who have served in the United States armed forces – our neighbors who have fought in defense of this country – and for preservation of our way of life.”

Underneath the Big Flag, Stroud continued, “Before you in the flag of our nation. That flag is the symbol of all that is sacred to us. Look at it closely for a moment. The Flag of the United States reflects what we are – and what we hope to be. The white stripes symbolize purity of purpose in our freedom of thought, expression and worship.”

“These are the privileges we guarantee to all who live in our land. They are the rights we defend against all enemies who seek to crush the way of life that you and I cherish. Also in that flag we see the red stripes of courage – our willingness to die, if necessary, for preservation of American ideals. Then there is the blue of tranquility upon which the stars of our states are untied to hold intact all that is truly ours – the desire for peace, prosperity and happiness throughout our nation,” Stroud proudly stated.

Bishop explained the significance of the Battlefield Cross statute. “The practice of the Fallen Soldier Battle Cross, Soldier’s Cross, Battlefield Cross or Battle Cross started in the Civil War as a means of identifying the fallen on the battleground before removal. Today, it is a means of showing respect for the dead. It is commonly seen in the field or base camp after a battle. While it is used less today as a means of identification, it still serves as a method of mourning among the living, as attending the funeral is not always possible for Soldiers still in combat. The helmet and identification tags signify the fallen Soldier. The inverted rifle with bayonet signals a time for prayer, a break in the action to pay tribute to our comrade. The combat boots represent the final march of the last battle.”

Many Mineral County residents remember the tragic day on March18, 2013 when seven United States Marines were killed during a training exercise at the Hawthorne Army Depot during a training exercise. These Marines were from the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Battlefield Cross is placed upon the same rock in which the names of the “Hawthorne’s Marine’s” reside.